Volunteer research has allowed us to compile a list of over 600 veterans from the Flamborough area, a list that is still being added to today. Throughout history, local men and women have served - whether at the front lines, as support, or on the home front.
Waterdown is favoured with three memorials within its boundaries - Memorial Hall, built to honour the memory of World War l veterans, Memorial Park, created and given to the Town to honour those serving in World War II. The third memorial, a traditional cenotaph in front of the Legion, was erected in 1985. Waterdown is also home to what is left of a World War I war trophy - the 1916 German Howitzer was originally to be placed in front of Memorial Hall. Though most of the artillery piece has been lost to time, the barrel remains at Sealey Park.
Our November display featured artifacts from the two most recognised conflicts of the last century - World War I, and World War II. Thanks goes to members who loaned items to make this display possible. Canadians have served diligently in both times of conflict and peace, and while our display does not feature items from other, less celebrated conflicts, Remembrance Day is for all of those who served, where or when required.
This video is a brief overview of the exhibit, which officially opened to the public November 5, 2021. The display featured artifacts from the two most recognized conflicts of the last century – World War I, and World War II. We'll cover just a few featured items here.
A Canadian poppy from Decoration Day 1921. Note the ribbon refers to the "Poppy Lady from France" - that references Madame Guérin.
This year, 2021, marks the 100th anniversary of the poppy worn as a symbol of remembrance. Many know of the iconic poem "In Flanders Fields" by John McCrae, but the story of the poppy and how it became a universal symbol of remembrance and sacrifice is more than one poem.
McCrae's poem, written after the loss of a friend and fellow soldier, inspired Moina Michael who was a volunteer worker for the American YMCA Overseas War Secretaries Organization. She published her own poem, "We Shall Keep the Faith" in 1918, and vowed to always wear a red poppy as a symbol of remembrance for those who fought in and assisted with the war. With her commitment to the poppy, Moina attended conferences wearing and distributing silk poppies, campaigning to have it recognised as a national symbol of remembrance.
At a 1920 conference, the National American Legion adopted the poppy as their official symbol of remembrance. At this conference, the Frenchwoman Madame E. Guérin addressed delegates about "Inter-Allied Poppy Day". Initially, her Poppy Days benefited the widows and orphans of the war devastated regions of France. Her efforts helped promote the use of the poppy throughout the British Empire.
Canada adopted the poppy as a national symbol of remembrance in 1921, shortly before Waterdown's Memorial Hall was dedicated on January 14, 1923. It's pleasant to imagine that those in attendance would have been wearing poppies on their lapels.
Our display in the upper level of the Waterdown Public Library remained for the month of November. We also had a small display in the Archives to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the poppy. While the Remembrance Day ceremony at the Legion this year was private, the Poppy Project at Memorial Hall allowed the public to remember in their own way, decorating one of Waterdown's memorials with homemade poppies.
Within the first section of the display cabinet, various artifacts related to World War I were displayed. On the left were various states of 18 pound shell casings, shrapnel and nose cap, examples of artillery used in WWI. Many of these artifacts were from the Somme offensive.
On the right of the display were artifacts directly related to people who served, including a set of binoculars that were manufactured in Britain, and the remnants of the sole of a boot.
Narrow gauge rail was used during WWI to transport troops, supplies, ammunition, and much more. Alongside is a remnant of an entrenching tool, extremely important in trench warfare.
5th Australian Field Ambulance Company soldiers evacuating wounded from the front near Ypres in trench railway hand cars.
The screw picket, or 'cork-screw', sometimes 'pig's-tail', was a piece of equipment used to hold up barbed wire, twisted into the ground to hang barbed wire from. Pickets were previously used, but the noise from hammering them into the ground rendered wiring parties targets to enemy fire.
The maple leaf in this central portion of the display was created with poppies made by elementary school students. Contributions of handmade poppies came from Flamborough Centre, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and Mary Hopkins schools.
The central part of the display, dubbed 'No Man's Land' by the volunteers that put the exhibit together, was a stark reminder of some of the realities of war.
One of many interesting items in the display cabinet, the long, looped steel post stumped a few visitors. Loaned for use in the display by a Heritage Society member, it was able to highlight a part of military history that may not be well known.
The World War II display of our exhibit featured items from the Siege of Malta, a fight for the control of the strategically important island of the British Crown Colony of Malta that pitted the air forces and navies of Italy and Germany against the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy.
Artifacts, on loan from one of the Heritage Society's members, included shell casings and binoculars from the Siege of Malta. They were donated to the Waterdown branch of the Royal Canadian Legion (Branch 551) by Mr. Norman Borg of Waterdown.
Because of medical improvements, the survival rate for the wounded and ill climbed to 50% during World War II from only 4% during World War I. -----Canadian ships were responsible for disabling 69 Axis vessels, but more importantly allowed for the successful completion of 25,343 merchant ship crossings carrying almost 200 million tons of cargo and a significant proportion of North American forces.
Visit our page, We Will Remember Them, for just a small fragment of information about those that did not return, Flamborough Nursing Sisters, and home children.
If you are or have a veteran in the family and wish to share their story, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us today so that we can preserve their story.
Want to support further Heritage Society events and exhibits? Donate today. Tax receipts issued for donations $25 and up. Thank you so much for your support.
The Flamborough Archives will be closed on Monday, May 24. Happy Victoria Day, and see you soon!